USGENWEB ARCHIVES VIRGINIA

THE CITY OF NORFOLK

LANGLEY FAMILY BURIAL GROUND

at Forest Lawn Cemetery
8100 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23505
Hours: Everyday from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(757) 441-1752

 

 

A Family Burial Ground’s Past and Future

by Beth Uiterwyk

When the City of Norfolk purchased a tract of Norfolk County property from George S. Bunting on 15 February 1906 to develop and utilize as a new city cemetery, it bought more than just farmland. Within the boundaries of the newly purchased tract lay a Langley family burial ground surrounded by a hedge and dotted with ornamental trees and shrubs. The gravestones in this private cemetery dated back to 1796.

Members of the Langley family had owned large tracts of property along Mason’s Creek since the late 1700’s. Jonathan Langley was in possession of the land that was later to become Forest Lawn Cemetery when he died intestate in 1825. The property passed in parcenary (joint heirship) to his heirs-at-law, Charles Langley, Elizabeth Margaret Langley and Louisa Ann Langley, children of Jonathan’s deceased brother, William Langley.

Charles outlived his Uncle Jonathan by less than a year, dying in December 1825. His will, recorded in Norfolk County on 16 January 1826, directed that his portion of the undivided Mason’s Creek property that had been "heired" to him by the death of his uncle Jonathan Langley was to remain in the hands of his widow Agnes "during her natural life."

Agnes J. Wilkins Langley married twice after Charles’ death. Her second husband, Solomon Cason, died in 1834. Her third husband, the Rev. Robert Peed, Jr., outlived her. In 1839, during her marriage to Robert Peed, Agnes relinquished her dower right in 1/3 of the undivided 433 acres of Mason’s Creek property that she had held since Charles Langley’s death in December 1825, thus leaving Charles’ surviving siblings, Louisa Anne Langley and Elizabeth Margaret Langley, wife of Carius Nimmo, in full ownership of the property. Agnes’ relinquishment of dower was made with the intention of purchasing a portion of the Mason’s Creek property.

A division of the Mason’s Creek property, based on acreage and improvement valuation, was subsequently made. Louisa Ann Langley received 278 acres. Elizabeth Langley Nimmo received 155 acres, and with her husband Carius Nimmo, sold that moiety to Rev. Robert Peed, Jr., husband of Agnes, on 13 July 1839. Agnes Wilkins Langley Cason Peed died 20 January 1852.

By 1860, Robert Peed, Jr. had remarried. At his death in June 1866, his widow Anna inherited the property on Mason’s Creek. Anna Peed sold the property to George S. Bunting on 6 January 1879. And, as was stated in the first paragraph, Bunting sold the property to the City of Norfolk in 1906.

The Langley family burial ground is not specifically mentioned in the wills and deeds by which it was passed from family member to family member and, finally, to the City of Norfolk. However, its continued existence within the boundaries of Forest Lawn Cemetery is evidenced by its discussion by Rogers Dey Whichard, well known Norfolk, Virginia historian and author, in his 1959 publication The History of Lower Tidewater Virginia. Whichard had transcribed the inscriptions on the old slab stones and headstones during a c. 1930 visit to Forest Lawn Cemetery, when he came upon "the interesting old Langley burial plot on Mason’s Creek". By 1955, the historian described the site as "formerly well tended, surrounded by a hedge and containing ornamental trees and shrubs. In recent years hedge and trees have disappeared, and the stones, considerably the worse for wear, are laid level, flat on the ground."

Today, the integrity of the Langley family burial ground and the survival of the eleven extant stones within the old site are threatened. The grass, though neatly cut in the isolated circle in which the old graves lie, has been allowed to invade upon and creep across the slab stones and the flat laid headstones. Decades of grounds maintenance by tractors rolling over the old stones has taken an irreparable toll. Without immediate intervention, this small, but significant, piece of old Norfolk County, Virginia family history will be lost forever.

Location of Langley burial ground within Forest Lawn Cemetery

 

Position of known graves in burial ground

The ten known graves in the Langley family burial ground belong to people related by blood or by marriage. The pivotal individuals in this web of family ties are William Langley and Agnes J. Wilkins, his daughter-in-law. There is no extant stone within the old burial ground for William, who died at his Norfolk County residence on 14 February 1825. To date, his burial site is unknown. Agnes, who died on 20 January 1852, was buried here; her burial being the last known interment in the family burial ground.

 

Langley Family Burial Ground Interments

Extant Grave Stones, 2010

The legibility of the inscriptions on these stones has been impaired by the natural ravages of time and the indifference of caretakers. In an attempt to accurately transcribe the old inscriptions, it has, in some instances, been necessary to consult additional sources. The test for a preponderance of evidence has, then, been applied in an effort to present the most accurate transcription.

Sources consulted:

1) "Langley Family Bible record, 1754 - 1829", Accession no. 29313, Archives & Manuscripts, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

2) Whichard, Rogers Dey, Ph.D.The History of Lower Tidewater Virginia. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1959. Volume I, pp. 317-318.

STONE 1
Charles Denby, brother of Elizabeth Denby Langley, first wife of William Langley.

 

The inscription on this stone had worn away by 1990. The scratched in "JR" that is legible in the photograph is the result of vandalism. Based solely upon Whichard’s transcription extracts, this is the headstone of Charles Denby who died in 1796 at the age of 12 years.

 

 

     

STONE 2
Louisa Langley, daughter of William & Elizabeth Denby Langley.

SACRED

To the Memory of
(Louisa) LANGLEY
Daughter of
William Langley
and Elizabeth
his wife
(who departed) this life
(20 November ????)

 

The Langley Family Bible record notes:
    Louisa Langley, the daughter of William & Elizabeth his wife, was born March 9th 1802.
    Louisa Langley, the daughter of William & Elizabeth his wife, departed this life November 20th 1802.

Inscription abstract by Rogers Dey Whichard notes:
    Louisa Langley, daughter of William & Elizabeth Langley, died 20 November 1803, aged 8 months

 

 

     

STONE 3
Elizabeth Denby Langley, first wife of William Langley.

In Memory
To the [-----------]
Elizabeth [----------]
wife of
William Langley
Who departed this (life)
May the 17 th 180(3)
Aged 22 Years

The Langley Family Bible record and Whichard’s inscription astract both note the year 1803 as the death year.

 

 

     

STONE 4
Elizabeth Margaret Langley, daughter of Charles & Agnes Wilkins Langley.

SACRED

To the memory of
Elizabeth
(daughter) of Charles
Langley & Agnes
(his) wife who depart
ed this life November
17 1821 aged 11
months

 

 

STONE 5
George Thelaball Langley, son of Charles & Agnes Wilkins Langley.

SACRED

To the memory of
George T. Langley
son of Charles
Langley & Agnes
his wife who departed
this life August 9
1825 aged 10 months

 

 

     

STONE 6
Charles Langley, son of William Langley, and the first husband of Agnes J. Wilkins.

SACRED
To the memory
of Charles Langley
who departed this
life December 2(0)
1825, aged 27.

So therefore friends lament not
We are not dead but gone before.

 

 

STONE 6A
Charles Langley, son of William Langley, and the first husband of Agnes J. Wilkins.

 

 

 

This is the footstone of Charles Langley.

     

STONE 7
Harrison A. Cason, stepson of Agnes Wilkins [Langley] Cason.

SACRED
To the Memory of
HARRISON A. CASON
son of Solomon Cason
and Ann his wife
who departed this life
July 15th 1832
Aged 10 years.

 

 

STONE 7A
Harrison A. Cason, stepson of Agnes Wilkins [Langley] Cason.

 

H. A. C.

 

This is the footstone of Harrison A. Cason.

 

     

STONE 8
Solomon Cason, second husband of Agnes J. Wilkins.

SACRED
To the Memory of
SOLOMON CASON
who departed this life
October 15th 1834
Aged 44 years

Blessed are the (dead who die) in
(The Lord)

 

STONE 8A
Solomon Cason, second husband of Agnes J. Wilkins.

 

S. C.

 

This is the footstone of Solomon Cason.

 

     

STONE 9
Elizabeth S. Langley Herbert, niece of William Langley.

 

 

 

 

SACRED
To the Memory of
ELIZABETH S., Consort of
Francis C. Herbert of Portsmouth
Who departed this life,
July 9th 1840
In the 30th year of her age,
    Leaving an affectionate husband and
[---] interesting family of children to
morn their loss.
The remembrance of her many virtues
and moral worth will be cherished in
the hearts of her numerous friends
Until they too shall slumber in the
mansions of the dead.

 

Robt Dalrymple*        
Norfolk    

  *Dalrymple was a Norfolk stonemason.
 

     

STONE 10
Agnes Wilkins [Langley, Cason] Peed,
wife of Charles Langley, Solomon Cason & Robert Peed, Jr.

 

AGNES J. PEED
Born May 7th 1798
Died January 20th 1852
Aged 54 years.

 

R. Dalrymple*        
Norfolk    

*Dalrymple was a Norfolk stonemason.  

Agnes was in her 54th year, but not yet 54 years old. She would not have turned 54 until 7 May 1852, three and a half months after her death.